Putting Yourself First


When it comes to putting yourself first, I’d say to anyone else, ‘DO IT!’ particularly to someone who’s been through treatment for breast cancer, which is the equivalent of being put through hell and back.  Truth be told, I need to practice more of what I preach. I often overextend myself on projects or requests made by others, and it’s not that I’m inherently a people pleaser, I just don’t like to say no because in my mind that might equate to “I can’t do it” which is not the case. I’m trying harder to make my happiness a priority without feeling guilty about it, but every so often I find the scales of balance being tipped a little too heavily towards the side of obligation. Like a seesaw, I try to pull it back again, reducing my commitments and trying to build in some much-needed down time.

Ditching people pleasing behaviors and saying no can be a scary thing for someone who’s used to being a go-to source, but it’s an essential life skill. After 8 rounds of chemotherapy and four surgeries, including the removal of both of my breasts and ovaries, I had to really work on finding my “new normal”. At first I just wanted to forge ahead, jumping right back into everything I’d been doing before my diagnosis. Sometimes it was worse because I had developed a greater sense of urgency and acute awareness regarding the passage of time and how quickly it moves. I went back to school for a third degree, started training for marathons (ok, half marathons), joined a dragon boat team requiring practice attendance twice a week, and of course work and life in between. I had zero downtime, and it grew tiresome. Now it’s been 8 years since my initial cancer diagnosis, and I’ve certainly grown into a more comfortable place. I try to be on board with incorporating new changes to the way I think and act. Sometimes, prioritizing my own needs can be a matter of sink or swim…life or death.

I do struggle in my mind with the notion of putting my needs above the demands of others, so I can take the necessary time required for self-care. I have many accomplishments, but feel like I can never be busy enough. This will always be a struggle, but I’m aware of it, and I suppose that’s half the battle.

I don’t say no too often, but I’m working on a simple, “No, thank you”, which allows me to show gratitude and appreciation for being asked. But no, I can’t. Really. And while indulging in rest and relaxation takes getting used to, I will not say no to my own needs any longer…says the girl currently in a slightly over-extended state.  Sigh…I didn’t say it was easy, but I’ll keep trying. You should, too!

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